Microsoft Corp.: Penny-Pinchers' Choice

By Steven Vonder Haar  |  Posted 2002-07-10 Print this article Print

Dossier: To gain traction in the streaming media market, Microsoft Corp. is using a time-tested strategy: It's bundling its technology into the operating system.

To gain traction in the streaming media market, Microsoft Corp. is using a time-tested strategy: It's bundling its technology into the operating system. PDF Download

Microsoft's Windows Media platform is woven into the Windows operating system, creating an environment where companies looking to deploy online audio and video applications can do so using "free" applications incorporated into key Windows products. Likewise, streaming publishing tools are offered as a downloadable add-on to Microsoft's popular Office suite. As a result, Microsoft's streaming software platform is an attractive choice for cost-conscious corporate technology managers.

"I'm not a Bill Gates advocate or bigot," says Allen Meyers, chief network architect for San Diego Data Processing Corp., the nonprofit entity that manages technology for the city of San Diego, Calif., including its growing usage of streaming media. "I'm just a keep-it-simple person and having everything in the operating system does simplify things."

But even simplicity can have its costs. Network managers who have used streaming systems from both Microsoft and its chief rival, Real-Networks Inc., say that Real updates its technology more frequently and provides better customer support.

"If you need support information on Windows Media, your best bet is to scrounge the news groups," says Jason Flenniken, lead multimedia developer with Vignette Corp. And because the Windows Media server is bundled into Windows NT, the upgrades to Microsoft's streaming server can be limited to upgrades in the overall server operating system."Microsoft does a million things, and Real can focus just on streaming," Flenniken says.

Other corporate users are satisfied with improvements in Microsoft's streaming offerings. Findlay, Ohio-based Marathon Ashland Petroleum, for instance, uses the Windows Media platform to Webcast employee meetings and executive speeches to its workforce nationwide. The company has noticed significant improvements in the technology since first using it three years ago, according to Robert Calmus, media producer at Marathon.

Microsoft Corp.
1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052
(425) 882-8080

Ticker: MSFT
Exchange: NASDAQ
Employees: 47,600

Jim Allchin
Group Vice President, Platforms
Heads unit responsible for the Windows franchise, which integrates streaming applications developed by Windows Media division. He joined Microsoft in 1990 to work on the company's network product strategy.

Will Poole
Corporate Vice President, Windows New Media
Poole was co-founder of eShop Inc., which was acquired by Microsoft in 1996. He oversees Microsoft's streaming efforts in addition to the content security business unit and its recently formed eHome division.

Dave Fester
General Manager, Windows Digital Media Division
Oversees operations of the streaming technologies unit.

Key Products:
Anchored by revenues from Windows PC operating system and Office productivity software, the company is establishing beachheads with Web applications and digital device platforms. In streaming, it develops a player, server and tools for producing and distributing digital audio and video.

Reference Checks

Marathon Ashland Petroleum
Robert Calmus
Media Producer
Project: Petroleum refiner uses Windows Media technology platform to make department meetings, speeches and more available to its workforce.

Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
Kendall Whitehouse
Director, Advanced Technology Development
(215) 898-2742
Project: Makes selected classes and guest lectures available online using Windows Media platform.

Caterpillar Inc.
Gus Otto
Senior Systems Analyst
Project: Heavy-equipment manufacturer is in midst of expansion of its use of streaming technology.

Mercedes-Benz Usa
Rick Thomas
Media Development, E-Learning Specialist
(201) 573-2570
Project: Carmaker uses Windows Media platform to deliver on-demand training clips to 4,500 technicians in dealerships nationwide.

Safeco Life and Investment
Bruce Peterson
Relationship Manager for Financial Services Distribution
Project: Using Windows Media platform to develop up to 40 Webcasts annually featuring interviews with portfolio managers.

Vignette Corp.
Jason Flenniken
Lead Multimedia Developer
(512) 741-4300
Project: Uses Windows Media technology platform to distribute up to three corporate Webcasts developed weekly.

Executives listed here are all users of Microsoft's Windows Media technology platform. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.


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